Debuting on 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia, BASF’s Plastic Can Take the Heat

The appetite for turbocharging technology is growing among automakers across the globe. OEMs view smaller displaced engines as a way to reach the fuel economy and tail pipe emissions standards set by regulators.

By 2020, the number of powertrains using forced induction to boost power and acceleration is expected to be as high as 60 percent, with passenger vehicles and pickup trucks using turbo technology.

But the addition of turbochargers is also increasing temperatures under the hood, resulting in levels of heat that will thermally oxidize plastic components.

“BASF saw this market trend of incorporating turbochargers on downsized engines and recognized the consequence increased temperatures will have on plastic components,” said Mike Chiandussi, powertrain market segment specialist for BASF’s Performance Materials division. “The Ultramid® Endure portfolio was created to meet the demand for lightweight materials that can withstand higher temperatures.”

The end result is that Ultramid Endure grades offer high heat aging resistance, good processability and excellent weld strength.

A polyamide-based plastic capable of continuous use in temperatures of up to 220 degrees Celsius and withstanding peak temperatures of 240 degrees Celsius, Ultramid Endure can be used for air intake manifolds with integrated air charge coolers, charge air cooler end caps, blow molded ducts and throttle bodies. It is available in North America, Europe and Asia to support global OEM programs.

To ensure the material’s ability to withstand high temperatures for extended periods, the primary test conducted on Ultramid Endure was heat aging. This meant exposing the material to temperatures between 200 to 220 degrees Celsius for 3,000 to 5,000 hours. An assessment of the plastic’s ability to perform in impact situations, as well as the stress and strain of everyday use, is also performed.

The end result is that Ultramid Endure grades offer high heat aging resistance, good processability and excellent weld strength.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia with the new 2.0L GME engine will debut with two new powertrain applications that utilize BASF’s Endure thermoplastics – the air intake manifold with integrated charge air cooler and the hot-side turbo duct. ­Specifically needing a material that is resistant to high temperatures, both were developed in North America in partnership with Magneti Marelli and ABC Group respectively.

“After conducting numerous resins trials through molding, welding and vigorous validation testing, we were able to use an industry-first material and meet the significant requirements for this application,” said Mary Anne Bueschkens, CEO of ABC Group. “The part requires weld connections and our engineers worked closely with BASF’s material and joining experts to understand the unique requirements, allowing us to fine tune our infrared welding technology, assuring success of the welding process for this demanding high temperature duct.”

In addition to its material expertise, BASF provides customers with technical and design support to ensure the part’s success. CAE testing has been cited as an issue for engineers working with composite technologies, which led to BASF developing its proprietary performance technology, ULTRASIM®. This system offers 95 percent accuracy when characterizing materials and their expected performance, enabling BASF’s partners to develop the lightest design possible with unsurpassed accuracy.

“BASF’s technical support was useful to ensure the application passed the burst requirement,” said Marcello Colli, product manager throttle bodies at Magneti Marelli. “Their material and welding experience ensured that we could use this heat resistant material and meet longer term durability targets.”

And as other automakers join the trend of utilizing turbochargers with smaller displaced engines, BASF is leveraging solutions such as Ultramid Endure and ULTRASIM to ensure powertrain components are capable of handling increased temperatures under the hood.

“Engine downsizing is showing no sign of slowing down, resulting in the demand for forced induction technology to grow even more in the next decade,” said Chiandussi. “With that in mind, BASF engineered Ultramid Endure to impact the next-generation of internal combustion engines.”

For more information, please contact BASFAutomotiveSolutions@basf.com